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4.7 4
Director: Gavin Hood

Cast: Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto, Kenneth Nkosi


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An amoral teenager develops an unexpected paternal side in this powerful drama from South Africa. Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae) is the street name used by a young Johannesburg delinquent who has taken to a life of crime in order to support himself. Tsotsi comes from a blighted upbringing -- his mother died slowly from AIDS-related


An amoral teenager develops an unexpected paternal side in this powerful drama from South Africa. Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae) is the street name used by a young Johannesburg delinquent who has taken to a life of crime in order to support himself. Tsotsi comes from a blighted upbringing -- his mother died slowly from AIDS-related illnesses, and his father was torturously abusive -- and he has developed a talent for violence borne of necessity as well as taking strange pleasure in hurting other people. One evening, Tsotsi shoots a woman while stealing her car, and only later discovers that her infant son is in the back seat. Uncertain of what to do with the baby, Tsotsi takes the boy home and tries to care for it -- going so far as to force Miriam (Terry Pheto), a single mother living nearby, to nurse the baby. With time, Tsotsi learns the basics of child care, and the presence of the baby awakens a sense of humanity in him that life on the street had stripped away. Tsotsi was adapted from a novel by the award-winning South African writer Athol Fugard.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Writer/director Gavin Hood, in adapting a sprawling novel by Athol Fugard, effectively fuses gangster-movie tropes to this powerful film, set in a South African township wracked by tribal violence. The title character, played as a young man by semi-professional actor Presley Chweneyagae, became a street thug after running away from a brutal father (Israel Makoe) and a mother (Sindi Shambule) dying of AIDS. Now an altogether ruthless gang leader, Tsotsi carjacks a middle-class black woman (Nambitha Mpumlwana), casually shoots her, and drives off, later discovering her baby boy in the backseat. On a whim, he begins caring for the child -- a process that helps mend his broken spirit and enables him to release the basic human values he has repressed in years of wanton savagery. Chweneyagae delivers a memorable performance, all the more meritorious for its reliance on facial expressions and body language to suggest emotions the brutish Tsotsi is incapable of clearly articulating. Similarly effective is the luminous Terry Pheto as a widowed single mother who has been kidnapped by Tsotsi. Hood eschews mundane formula with a deliberately paced third act that builds to an unexpected climax and ends on a transcendent note. The vast difference in culture, tradition, and social conditions will make Tsotsi -- the 2006 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign-Language Film -- a memorable viewing experience for most American viewers, its graphic violence notwithstanding.
All Movie Guide - Jason Buchanan
It's often said that people aren't capable of change until they genuinely want to better themselves; and while it's fairly easy to convey personal transformation in a simple screenplay, to make that reformation truly convincing over the course of 94 minutes is a somewhat more daunting prospect. When we first meet the South African teen known as Tsotsi (not an actual name but a generalizing slang term meaning "thug" or "gangster"), he is about to make the leap from simple hooligan to something far more sinister; yet as the story unfolds, the viewer gradually discovers that his tale is a bit more complicated than it first appears. With Tsotsi, writer/director Gavin Hood has achieved the rare feat of presenting a character whose quick temper and cold exterior make him easy to fear in the opening scenes, and gradually providing the audience with the backstory needed to understand that those components of his personality are but a small part of a much larger picture painted by the tragedy and sadness of his harsh childhood. We are all a product of our youth, and Tsotsi's youth was one of death, poverty, and abuse. While most films concentrate on the manner in which the world tends to harden people with age, Hood's film sets out to show that it can also have the opposite effect under the right circumstances. Though the story is at times predictable and occasionally crosses the line into sappy sentimentality, effective performances and believable motivations allow the viewer to become involved in the proceedings in a manner that lends the film a convincing element of believability. On the visual front, cinematographer Lance Gewer's crisp cinematography serves well to highlight the stark contrast between the decayed shantytown in which Tsotsi survives and the modern comforts of the nearby city where there still remains a glimmer of hope.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Miramax Echo Bridge
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Presley Chweneyagae Tsotsi
Terry Pheto Miriam
Kenneth Nkosi Actor
Mothusi Magano Actor
Zenzo Ngqobe Actor
Annemarie Zola Actor
Rapulana Seiphemo Actor
Nambitha Mpumlwana Actor
Nonthuthu Sibisi Actor
Nthuthuko Sibisi Actor
Jerry Mofokeng Actor
Ian Roberts Actor
Percy Matsemela Actor
Ben Moshe Actor
Thembi Nyandeni Actor
Israel Makoe Actor
Sindi Shambule Actor

Technical Credits
Gavin Hood Director,Screenwriter
Sam Bhembe Executive Producer
Joseph D'Morais Executive Producer
Basil Ford Executive Producer
Peter Fudakowski Producer
Lance Gewer Cinematographer
Megan Gill Editor
Paul Hepker Score Composer
Alan Howden Executive Producer
Mark Kilian Score Composer
Nadia Kruger Costumes/Costume Designer
Robbie Little Executive Producer
Rupert Lywood Executive Producer
Doug Mankoff Executive Producer
Shaun Murdoch Sound/Sound Designer
Paul Raleigh Co-producer
Pierre Viennings Costumes/Costume Designer
Mark Walker Art Director
Emelia Weavind Production Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Tsotsi
1. Opening Titles/Tsotsi's Gang [:00]
2. "Decency, Tsotsi" [:00]
3. Car-Jack [:00]
4. The Baby [:00]
5. Morris [5:33]
6. Miriam [3:34]
7. Fela and the Gang [6:44]
8. Tsotsi's Past [5:46]
9. Leaving the Baby With Miriam [8:11]
10. Helping Boston [8:53]
11. The Baby's House [3:12]
12. Leaving Aap [5:57]
13. Road to Redemption [8:06]
14. Surrender [3:05]
15. End Credits [8:59]


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Tsotsi 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read about this film, and intended to purchase it in the future, but came upon it while 'flipping' channels one evening. This film is all that I read about! Very moving! Gripping! The actor Presley Chweneyagae (Tsotsi) delivers, as well as all the other actors. The differences in the cultural and social conditions is an educational experience for many Americans. Excellent movie! Great acting!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a powerful movie and the acting is superb. It's hard not to cry at the end. The transformation of the main character is wonderful to see. Definitely worth your time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
`Tsotsi' is one gorgeous and thrilling film. Not only is it a first-rate piece of storytelling, but it also takes the viewer into a world of South African poverty and crime that one might not know existed. Director/writer Gavin Hood offers us a tale of tragic redemption and uncommon poetry in a subculture of the most abject immorality. The actors here were phenomenal and their performances were both realistic and believable. Natural talented Presley Chweneyagae , as Tsotsi, is not just physically charismatic, but the changes in his voice are gripping in communicating the extreme range of feelings he experiences over the few days the film takes place. This is a road trip through his soul, from flash backs to existential acts from his depths to finding his humanity (and his real name). His relationship with a cruelly accidental foundling infant has no comparison to the dozens of films, usually comedies, made around the world about an irresponsible guy stuck with a kid and how a child can be father to man. While his picaresque physical and psychic journey is almost as theatrical in its coincidences as "Crash", the tension is built up as it is unpredictable in each confrontation whether he will react violently or redemptive. Just when I thought his side kicks were indifferent, even they turned out to have complicated stories that were well portrayed, particularly Mothusi Magano as "Boston".Terry Pheto as "Miriam" is the very essence of a woman who shows artistic talent, strength and nourishment in her role. It is rare to see maternal love so powerfully portrayed onto a film. The music embedded in here is strong and goes perfect with this picture. There were times I would playback a scene so I can rehear the music samples. After watching this film I was able to grab hold of the soundtrack. The tracks were put together by local South African's. The artist who are particularly outstanding are the tracks by local Kwaito artist Zola which uniquely combine local and international hip hop into a new sound, as well as tracks with the inspiring voice of Vasi Mahlasela over choirs, which recalls Ladysmith Black Mambazo. With an attention to detail in the music, the middle class family listens to soft R & B on their car radio, in comparison to the township sound that surrounds the Soweto residents. The subtitles are well done throughout and translated musical lyrics, even as we can occasionally pick out some Pidgin English amidst the township jive. In the end, this crime film is a morality play about sin and love. `Tsotsi' shows a powerful statement about the transforming nature of guilt. This is truly a must see. I also highly recommend 'City of God.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago